Los Angeles isn't being completely taken over by Southern American food, but there are two elements of that wide-ranging culinary genre that the city is currently overcome by. One is barbecue. The other is fried chicken.
These are two specialties that are not often found in the same restaurant. But they do share a regional background, and as we're finally discovering on the West Coast, a common accompaniment. That's pimento cheese.
Food snobs might initially disdain pimento cheese, given that the main ingredients are shredded cheddar, mayonnaise and often cream cheese. But snobbery always loses if something is delicious enough. And pimento cheese really is. The mixture has no specific recipe but often (but not necessarily!) includes chopped jarred pimentos, salt and pepper, maybe garlic, maybe some garlic powder or cayenne, or Worcestershire if you're fancy. Some people add a little pickle relish. It's pretty free-form but always recognizable. Its nickname is Southern caviar (can non-Southerners call it that?) and it is traditionally just a cracker spread or simple sandwich filling. (It's also popular in the Philippines, but the recipe there is a little different, often rounded out with evaporated milk and sugar.)
But it's not just a fried chicken topper, thank goodness. At Suburbia, it's a spread for fried green tomatoes. Up in Santa Barbara, Lark has gotten all artisanal about it, making it with smoked gouda.
But as with many unpretentious treats, simple is usually best. The Hart & the Hunter serves it with biscuits, City Tavern in a grilled cheese sandwich. Maple Block may win the pimento cheese gold medal, as they serve it on white bread. Just pimento cheese and white bread. The way it was intended.
Now, if only pimento became a standard option for cheeseburgers around here.